Friday, October 22, 2010

My Birthday

The morning of my birthday started bright and early as I worked to continue the 6 cakes promised for Emily's wedding.  There is a pumpkin cider, a lemon custard, and chocolate pistachio, a coconut icebox, a pineapple lime, and a peppermint angel food.  I dusted off the flour to make it to the temple ceremony and witnessed two sweet and very innocent young people commit their eternities together.  I made it back just in time to put everyone in their places and begin the rehearsal for the primary church program.  It ended and we loaded everyone into the car with the cakes and drove an hour away for the reception.  I helped in the kitchen, then came out and danced and chatted and celebrated with my dear friends.  We returned home past the children's bedtime, and I am so tired, I want nothing more than sleep.  Sadly, all the cakes return home with me.  They never even made it out of the kitchen to the cake table.  I have told myself philosophically, that it is a good sign on my birthday that I am still needed in this world.  But now I am so tired that I bitterly feel that like the cakes, no one wants what I offer anyway.  I cry myself to sleep.  There are days like this. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Road Less Traveled

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost

Sunshine's birthday merited a special treat, an outing to Fiesta Fun.  The neon sign flashes near the freeway, enticing my little ones every time we drive into town for a vacation.  We step through a blow up monster mouth into a music blaring, child squealing madhouse.  For $60, we purchase the smallest package that includes bumper boats, miniature golf, and 10 arcade tokens per person.  We begin with the boats.  Even Sunshine is tall enough to pilot her own boat.  We put around a bit, till Sunshine, who does not know how to steer, is pulled into the water fountain.  Panicked, she stands up in her boat, screaming the park to a halt.  Perhaps she hopes to jump into the water to save herself from the fountain.  I scream, "SIT DOWN!!!"  I put put on over and bump her a few times, Briz comes from the opposite side and together we bump her out of the whirlpool effect.

Everyone politely watches the others put their brightly colored balls for the first 4 holes.  Little Mother asks to go ahead.  Ladybug soon follows.  Within 5 minutes, they have "completed" all 12 plus holes and have run out to ask us for more tokens.  A sad and soggy Sunshine drips near us and "watches as Briz and I finish up our holes.  "Don't you want to try to hit your ball in this one?"  "NO."  "O.K."

The children quickly learn that the fun games offer few tickets per play so they gravitate to the games of chance where for no fun at all, you might win a jackpot of 50 tickets.  After they have exhausted our supply of tokens after their own, they turn in their hard earned tickets for flimsy penny prizes (you know the kind that last a few hours at best?)

The car ride home was not horrible, but was tinged with a bit of grumpiness.  Somehow, the neon siren had not produced the expected joy but emptiness and discontent.   

The next day, Briz spotted a canyon that looked intriging.  We pulled over to see if there was a way to explore this area.  We found a small trail and this sign.

Could it get any better?  We found a secret trail!  Scrub Jays flitted ahead darting in and out of the stands of trees and shrubs that smelled as Little Mother put it, apples and cinnamon.

The color scheme was unreal.  We traveled on sand through pine and deciduous forests, over creek beds, and next to sheer cliffs straight out of A Crooked Sky.

We crawled in caves, searched for frogs, climbed mountains, and garbled strange noises to hear our echos.  Little Mother ran like a deer, Sunshine and Ladybug paused often to announce that they could hear their heart beating.

Briz told the girls they'd be lucky to get their mom back to the car, and he was right, I'd never been to such a unique spot.  Each turn showed new vegetation, or formations, and the constantly changing vistas were majestic and awe inspiring.  Finally with fear of the fading daylight, we ran the majority of the strenuous and rocky trail back to our car.

Toward the freeway, we discovered a picnic table and dined on our weekend leftovers.  Our meal was scanty, we were dirty, and a bit chilly, yet the conversation sparkled.  The girls laughed and joked with each other and with us their parents.  They shared the yummy tidbits and peeled tangerines for one another.  Three silky dirty heads leaned on my shoulder as we laughed.  I laid my head on a much larger bald and sweaty one in perfect peace.

Lesson:  Our family thrives on the road less traveled.  Interestingly, it is usually the least expensive road as well. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I trotted over the lawns that separate our homes around 5:45.   K. ran up the stairs, hugged me, and jumped up and down because she knew I shared her excitement.  Her big sister was going to her first big dance.  The other little girls all talked at once, spilling over each other with exuberance.  Finally, they made me shut my eyes as M. made her big entrance. 

She was beautiful.  Inside and out.  Everything from her hair down to her shoes was classy and elegant.  "I don't feel like myself."  She commented.  I wanted to say, "Finally, you begin to resemble yourself." But I didn't. 

Little sisters watched anxiously for the first glimpse of "the date."  Others gathered around the computer to talk to mom and dad long distance via computer.  Briz arrived sporting his weapon in an obvious place.  We talked him out of making M's poor date write his name on a bullet.  "It is important for all guys to know that the girl they're taking out is loved and that a guy who knows what they're thinking is watching out for that girl."  Well, we girls don't understand that, but we trusted Briz to be nice.

At the appropriate moment, we called M in to make her appearance.  Like my mother before me, I had to teach how to pin on the flower.   With great excitement she exited the house.  As the car door closed at the front of the house, the house full of girls, including Little Mother and myself, jumped up and down with the excitement of it all and the pleasure of helping her get off happily.

I kidnaped this elegant girl for her first day in Young Womens.  I've gone to her plays, her violin recitals.   I've helped her with school projects, and been a reference for her in jobs.  Someday, I hope to attend her wedding, and maybe even hold her child.  It is such an honor to be in people's lives.... to be there at the crossroads... to share a bit of their exciting time on earth.  To have a bit of involvement with their emergence.  Once I was so sad at limiting my influence with only 3 children.  Now, I see that for me, it opened me up to experience the joy of many many more children than I could effectively parent.  It's a good job for me.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Witches Allight!

Carleene, Lesa, and Charolette took me out for my birthday, even though we are weeks early... its the only time we could all get together.  We had a fantastic time, trying on jewelry, hats, eating fried avocados with salsa ranch sauce, seafood stuffed steak, and sharing stories with one another.  Women need each other.  I thought I'd stick to myself this month... but I see how much I'd have missed out on. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mature Immaturity

My grandmother, age 80, matronly round figure, stout practical shoes, mother of 7 grandfathers, behaved absolutely like an adolescent after each of her husbands died.  For each of the 4, the preened, primped and giggled as she told "the story".   What on earth have you been eating or sniffing or whatever?  I wondered.  After each marriage, she went back to the respectable staid though jolly woman I knew.  

It took some time to realize that though time, cares, and responsibility suppress our innate joyful silliness, it exists in the best behaved of us, waiting for the right circumstances to pop out.  I suppose it is a good thing my children weren't with Briz and I as we took a weekend trip to the Shakespearean Festival with friends Amy and husband.  

We talked and laughed the entire drive, so 3 hours felt like 15 minutes.  Each couple snuggled and snoozled like new dates as we watched the green show.  

We behaved abominably, and couldn't hold our giggles as Benedick in Much Ado about Nothing spit mercilessly over us and many rows back.  We wondered why they don't offer saliva shields to the first several rows.  In addition, why pay more for these rows when they ought to go for much, much less.  At night, we consumed over $60 in treats as we stayed up early hours of the morning, laughing, crying, telling secrets and solving the world's problems.  As consequence, we all slept in till blessedly  late in the day...

Briz's sister and hubby walked in on us unexpectedly, towards noon, and caught Briz with Amy... in PJ's without her bra... could not find me (I was in the bedroom), and put their minds in a very interesting place.  They didn't know whether to call me or keep it a secret.  We laughed till we were sick.  

Briz brought his arsenal for target practice.  I pretended I was super tough and shot the rounds as fast as I could.  I'm actually pretty good as witnessed by the pop bottle that kept leaping satisfactorily in the air.  Joe liked the ear protection so much he asked for and received a pair for his birthday to drown out the noise in the house from the kids. 

Being open to the moment, we accepted an invitation from a complete stranger and his granddaughter to find some petroglyphs.  Do you pronounce that tempypoop?  What kind of pictures get a name like that?

Did you know that if you are really immature you can think of all sorts of interesting things the petroglyphs might mean.  Forget religious overtones, messages from tribe to tribe. . . 


At lunch, between Pride and Prejudice and an Alfred Hitchcok play, we laughed at lunch.  Some of the actors from Pride and Prejudice sat across the partition from us.  I dared Amy to play the goofy fan.  She accepted.  We made a sign for our favorite, Mr.  Collins that said, "We think Mr. Collins is mmmmmmm Marvelous, copying his stutter from the play.  She pasted it with a wide mouthed leer from herself on the glass between

Briz excused himself from our immaturity and went to visit the men's room.  Mr. Collins laughed, Jane laughed, Amy and I rolled as I gave him a thumbs up.  I think one of us wet ourselves a bit. Imagine our chagrin as we were seated on the front row for the Alfred Hitchcock, as the curtains rose and the star, aka Mr. Collins, was looking down at us with a smirk, enjoying his two middle aged fans... both married and one pregnant.  

I think we shed 24 years on that trip, but somehow they found us again as we arrived home to hectic schedules, discipline problems, messes, and stuff.  I long to feel that mental freedom again, that joyful abandon, that silliness.  Yet I am glad to know that it still exists hidden somewhere.  I hope that younger version of me finds a way out again someday soon.  She is easier for me to live with.  

Between us do we really have 38 years of marriage and 9 children?  No.  Impossible for these silly four.  I think I get my grandma.   

Monday, October 4, 2010


Fall in the rocky mountains brings cool crisp air, bright blue skies, changes in the leaves, and harvest time.  The freezer is full of corn and peaches, the cellar is loaded with tomatoes, salsa, pasta sauce, and jams.  A quick jaunt to the mountains with Jonathan and Isabel over Labor Day let us know that the chokecherries were on. 

For us, chokecherries are a family affair.  Each has a job, some scout the trees, others climb, hold grocery bags or pick.  Faces press to windows in amazment as cars speed by.  Some stop and ask us what in the world we are doing.  I feel better when we move higher up the mountain where the berries are smaller but there are no cars.

Chokecherries seem to grow best on steep embankments covered with stinging nettle, briers, and stickers.  So, it is a sacrifice for all of us.  I wonder if our neighbors (who will be lucky enough to try some of our jam or syrup) will realize the drops of blood that were spilled for each and every jar.

The harvest is good this year.  This is the best harvest we've ever had.   Entrepreneurial Ladybug wants to sell jars door to door.  However, Briz is violently protective of his product.  I don't think she could sell them for a price he feels is worthy for his prized jams.  I know we all love the taste, but I really think the draw is that each year as we harvest, we all feel a connection to our ancestors.  We are mighty, ingenious, and frugal hunter-gatherers. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Halloween Preparations

Due to the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I was scrooging holidays.  Too tired to decorate, too tired for my normal fuss and bustle we all live for around here.  But, Briz took Ladybug and Sunshine to fix fences and listen to conference down south for the weekend leaving Little Mother and I.

My weekend partner had plans, witnessed by her planner.  So, the weekend was spent with my 9 year old buddy.  We went to movies, out to dinner, garage sales, painted out nails, visited friends, painted her dresser, listened to all of conference together, and decorated for Halloween.

Her excitement for everything was contagious.  Some of the decorating is off center or in less than perfect positioning, but she did much of it herself.  I think it means even more that way.  Nothing will convince her that we have not just had the premier weekend of our lives.  I am so grateful to be able give her undivided attention for 3 short days.

The adventurers just arrived home.  With wonder on their sleepy faces, they tour the house.  "I remember that witch!  That skeleton scared me!"  But the most exciting find is the new Halloween Tree Advent calender I made with Jodi, tempting the innocent with promises of sweets, pencils, or stickers. 

Friends, I think this mom is back in business.